Sustainable Development Goal 11 – Sustainable cities and communities

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Making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable is the is the eleventh goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


Today, the world is unquestionably urban. According to the United Nations, 55% of the world’s population live in urban areas and the number should increase to 70% by 2050. This means that if we want to guarantee a better future for people and the planet, it is in cities that we will find our biggest challenges – and also its best solutions.

But what would a sustainable city be? Many people believe that the concept is limited to preserving the environment, but in reality its meaning goes far beyond that. When we say that a city or a community is sustainable, we mean that its economic, social, cultural and, of course, environmental aspects are used in a balanced way, without affecting resources for future generations. In other words, we are talking about quality of life – both for people and for the ecosystems that live with them.

It is no coincidence to say that, when we talk about sustainable cities and communities, we are are also talking about smart cities! According to the official definition by ISO – International Organization for Standardization, included in the technical standard ISO 37122 – “Indicators for Smart Cities”, a smart city “provides social, economic and environmental sustainability results and responds to challenges such as climate change, rapid population growth and political and economic instability”. In other words, a smart city is more inclusive, safe, resilient and of course, sustainable!

A smart city expert, Bright Cities is the fastest way to make a city more sustainable. We achieve that through precise diagnostics and innovative solutions, evaluating the urban performance in ten different areas and indicating the most efficient technologies to transform whatever needs improvement.

Acting in an integrated manner at all levels of urban management, we help cities of any scale or nationality to achieve the SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities, the eleventh goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With the mission of “making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable“, the goal cannot be achieved without a significant transformation in the way we build and manage urban spaces.

And that involves other goals included in the 2030 Agenda. First, ensuring decent housing for people is essential, and we know that extreme poverty is often concentrated in informal urban spaces without access to basic services. Hence the relationship between SDG 11 with the areas of urbanism and health, two issues addressed in SDG 1: Eradication of Poverty and SDG 6 – Drinking water and sanitation.

Ensuring a good quality of life for people also implies having a good mobility, assuring that individuals exercise their right to work and have access to services and opportunities – topics mentioned in SDG 7 – Clean and Accessible Energy and SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth.

Strengthen spaces for participation and ensure inclusive policies, as determined in SDG 5 – Gender Equality; reduce the number of deaths and ensure the well-being of a population, as addressed in SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being; and increase the economic production of a given city, as said by SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure are also included in the SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities.

Achieving such a complex goal is no easy task, but Bright Cities is the quickest and easiest way to get there. And how do we do it? When diagnosing a city, a series of indicators are evaluated to identify which urban areas need improvement. In all, ten categories are analyzed: Governance, Education, Health, Urbanism, Environment, Security, Mobility, Entrepreneurship and Technology and Innovation.

Gathered on our online platform, all these data offer a complete city’s overview, helping urban administrators to understand what policies and actions need to be carried out to achieve the SDG 11. Essential for collecting data on a given urban context, the indicators used by Bright Cities are aligned with all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and are important tools for the analysis, evaluation and monitoring of a city.

We have listed some of them below to explain how they relate to the goals established by SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities:

  • Indicator “Percentage of the population with authorized electric service”: analyzes whether a given municipality is able to properly carry out the distribution and monitoring of energy. Thus, it is related to target 11.1 of SDG 11: “By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums“;
  • Indicator “Km of public transport system with high capacity”: with the data obtained, the municipal manager can better understand if a city can offer an adequate public transport system to serve the population, as established by target 11.2 of SDG 11: “By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons“;
  • Indicator “Population density”: it determines the volume of people living in a given city, if its territory is capable of adequately housing its population and if it is correctly offering basic services, as mentioned in target 11.3 of SDG 11 : “By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries“;
  • Indicator “Green area rate”: evaluates the proportion of parks, squares, forests and other green areas. With the values ​​obtained, it is possible for the municipal manager to evaluate whether the municipality meets the target 11.7 of SDG 11, which says: “By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities“.

It is based on the collection, analysis and comparison of the data obtained with these indicators that Bright Cities creates and makes available, online, a complete diagnosis of a city, as well as a roadmap with intelligent solutions to solve its urban problems. Our platform maps positive initiatives for cities, with a database that includes more than 1,000 smart solutions for smart cities, the largest in the world!

One of these solutions is the Operational Control Center, a technology that provides solutions for smart cities through the implementation of an Operational Control Center in partnership with IBM. The solutions are based on information collection and use of bigdata for compilation and analysis of indicators of readings of sensors and use of IoC (transit, cameras, temperature, etc). It also offers a platform installed on OCC to use solutions in various areas: mobility with fleets of bikes shared; counting cameras for real-time monitoring of vehicles for transit; monitoring of waste collection fleets and fleet services; energy/public lighting.

This and many other solutions can be checked free of charge on our online platform. When visiting our database, access the filter on the left of the screen to discover smart initiatives in any of the ten urban areas analyzed by Bright Cities!


Having innovative solutions that fit in the pocket and calendar of cities is one of the best strategies to guarantee better services. After all, it is a municipality’s responsability to develop, implement and manage policies for housing, sanitation, urban mobility, security, among many others – and all of this with regulatory institutions equipped with qualified personnel to deal with urban challenges and conflicts. That is why is so important to count with a platform such as Bright Cities, which brings together data and smart solutions in just one place.

If our cities want to accomplish the goals included in 2030 Agenda on time, we need to demystify the concept of smart cities and create increasingly intelligent urban centers. According to the UN, cities in the world occupy only 2% of the Earth’s space, but use 60 to 80% of energy consumption and cause 75% of carbon emissions. The forecasts are expected to become even more worrying, since rapid urbanization is putting pressure on our supply of fresh water, sewage and public health.

Today, 883 million people live in slums and areas classified as unhealthy for human life. When we talk about pollution, for example, in 2016 has 90% of city inhabitants breathing inadequate air, resulting in 4.2 million deaths due to air pollution.

Even in 2019, in the latest study released by the UN, a substantial decrease in the global urban population living in slums was found, but cities still face challenges such as pollution, limited access to transportation and inequality. According to the information released:

  • The proportion of people with adequate access to public transportation (defined as living 500 meters away) remains low, especially in developing countries. Based on data from 227 cities in 78 countries in 2018, on average 53% of urban residents in all regions had convenient access to public transport;
  • Globally, urban areas are expanding at a faster rate than their populations. Between 2000 and 2014, the areas occupied by cities grew 1.28 times faster than people;
  • Worldwide, 2 billion people do not have access to garbage collection services and 3 billion people do not have access to waste disposal facilities;
  • In 2016, 9 out of 10 people living in urban areas still breathed air that did not meet the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines;
  • Between 1990 and 2016, the proportion of the global urban population living in slums fell from 46 to 23%;
  • Based on data from 220 cities in 77 countries in 2018, only 21% of the population had adequate access to open public spaces.
Source: UN


With coronavirus, the responsibility of cities to ensure the safety and health of the population has only increased. We know, for example, that the impact of COVID-19 is bigger in poor and densely populated urban areas: for the nearly one billion people living in informal settlements and slums around the world, social detachment and self-isolation are almost impossible. In Brazil, the epidemic continues to grow and UN predictions say that the peak of contagion will only happen in August.

Expert in smart cities, Bright Cities has been committed in helping managers to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Our team of professionals has mapped smart solutions available on our platform, whether new or existing, that can help in health, economics, public safety and even in the education of cities at this time of crisis. We also used all of our data analysis expertise to create an online interactive dashboard, available to City Halls and citizens – the Dashboard Bright Cities COVID-19. Updated daily, the tool gathers a series of official sources on a single platform, being able to quickly detect trends and answer the most complex questions.

Bright Cities is the easiest and fastest way to diagnose a city’ efficiency and find the best solutions for it! If you are a public manager, don’t miss the chance to upgrade your city. Contact us and get to know the platform!

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